Friday, 15 May 2015

Raised beds and raised expectations

As I expected, Nancy popped over the other day. She and I did some more work on the raised beds. There are two of these which form an 'L' in plan with one slightly higher than the other. As when we were at The Hermitage, I like using rotation as one of the tools available to reduce disease. Thus this year, what we grew in the top bed has been sown in the lower bed and the top bed will be used for what was below last year.

The bottom bed is now fully sown. From left to right there is a row of nasturtiums (Marcia sometimes uses these flowers to cheer up a salad but the main reason they are there is to provide a splash of colour and because I like them). These have yet to 'show'. Then there are four rows of 'leaves' – lettuces from which we take leaves as and when needed so from plant to plate is a matter of moments. Two of these rows are up and running (we had the first leaves from them earlier in the week) and Nancy sowed the other two rows when she was over. The rest of the bed is given over to carrots. These are in three blocks so as to stagger them a bit and these blocks are sown broadcast with far more seeds than most people would consider sensible. Marcia loves very small baby carrots and we shall be eating the thinnings quite soon and, with any luck, we shall have a continuous supply right up until the end of the year
The bits of string draped over this bed are there to try to deter one of the local cats. He loves nothing better than to dig up new tilled earth and would create total havoc if I let him.

Meanwhile, in the top bed are the broad beans I sowed back in the autumn . They are all in pots because I find these beans never transplant terribly happily. Then, as spring approaches, the pots are sunk into the bed. They are very nearly ready to harvest – there won't be a lot but they should taste wonderful. Once they have been picked, I shall use the space for some brussels sprouts that are presently in the greenhouse and just showing above the soil. At the far end are a couple of cherry tomato plants – more than enough to keep us happy – and then the spring sowing of broad beans to be ready August or early September. These have yet to show.

So there you have the raised beds. Beside them is the bed in which the runner beans will be planted out next week – they are still in the greenhouse – and that is it apart from the rhubarb. You will note that I avoid most brassica. That is because (at least in my experience) they really are not worth the effort. We can buy cabbages and so on very cheaply in the market or the farm shop and they are more than fresh enough. I accept that this is an odd group of plants to be growing but there you are – a childhood where there was a large kitchen garden with vegetables of all sorts in serried rows ready to be sold at the Tuesday market in the town near where we lived rather put me off proper gardening and so I do what I do because I enjoy it and the scale is small enough to ensure that matters do not get out of hand.

As to the matter of raised expectations: blame whoever it was who posted a comment encouraging me to talk about politics for what follows. Few people here believed that the Conservative Party (the 'Tories') would win an overall majority at the general election held, as I am sure you all know, on my birthday – bit they did. What does that mean here in the UK and to the wider world? Here are a few thoughts.

We still have a real problem with what is seen as the class system in this country – but it is (in my view that is) blown out of proportion by a fairly small but very noisy minority who seem to me to be fuelled by envy and tribalism. Granted David Cameron, George Osbourne and a few others all went to Eton which is generally considered to be a very elitist school but then many other MP's went to 'posh' schools (including Ed Milliband and Nick Clegg: the leaders of the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats).

Another factor to take into consideration is that Cameron is calling on the services of a wide range of his MP's to serve in his government. They come from all sorts of ethnic backgrounds and educational establishments whilst many are the children of very mundane working parents.

So, my raised expectations are this government will truly be a govern for all the people and that when it takes decisions on a proposal, that proposal will pass three tests: is the proposal doable? will the proposal achieve what it is intended to achieve? is the proposal affordable? It would be nice to add a fourth – will there be any unforeseen consequences? – but that is clearly impossible.
Just simple pragmatic government steered by common sense and not ideology.

These two pictures come from Naomi Bates, one of the many of Marcia’s readers who live in Australia. In her words, they were taken as the sun was rising “just along the road from our house down on Margate Beach in Queensland.” Many thanks for these, Naomi.

Please don't forget that I really do like putting up photos which show us where some of Marcia's readers live (and, of course, of their pets).